Can you Recycle Bicycle Helmets? That Depends on Where You Live

Can you Recycle Bicycle Helmets?

Bicycle helmets protect your head and brain from severe injuries while riding. But what do you do with your old helmet when it’s time to replace it? Can you recycle bicycle helmets? The answer is not so simple.

Most bicycle helmets are constructed using a combination of polycarbonate shells and expanded polystyrene foam.

Technically, these are recyclable materials, but not all recycling centers accept them.

And if they do, you must dismantle your helmet beforehand to separate the different parts.

In this article, I  will explore some options for recycling or reusing your old bike helmet and give some tips on choosing a more sustainable helmet in the future.

What Are Bicycle Helmets Made of, and Can they be Recycled?

What Are Bicycle Helmets Made of, and Can they be Recycled?

Most bike helmets have a three-part construction: a hard outer shell, a thin lining, and a breathable interior.

The outer shell is usually made of Kevlar or polycarbonate, which are light but strong materials.

The lining is typically made of expanded polystyrene foam (EPS), which absorbs the impact energy in case of a crash. The interior may have pads, straps, and dials to adjust the fit and comfort of the helmet.

Unfortunately, most bike helmets cannot be recycled easily. This is because they are made of mixed materials that are hard to separate and process.

Some recycling centers may accept bike helmets but they must be dismantled first. Some manufacturers may also offer recycling programs for their products, but they are not very common or accessible.

Therefore, choosing a bike helmet that is durable and eco-friendly is essential. Some features to look for are carbon fiber, which is strong and lightweight; EPP foam, which can withstand multiple impacts; and biodegradable materials, such as cork or bamboo.

Why Recycle Bicycle Helmets?

Recycling bicycle helmets is essential for several reasons.

  • First, it helps to reduce waste in landfills, which can take up valuable space and contribute to environmental pollution.
  • Second, recycling can help conserve natural resources by reusing materials you would otherwise discard.
  • Finally, recycling bicycle helmets can also help to create new jobs in the recycling industry and stimulate the economy.

How to Recycle Bicycle Helmets

Recycling a bike helmet is not as easy as it may seem. Bike helmets are made of different materials that are hard to separate and process.

Most recycling centers do not accept bike helmets, and some may require them to be dismantled first. However, there are some ways to recycle a bike helmet at a local center or through a manufacturer’s program.

Here are the steps and requirements for recycling a bike helmet:

  • Check the helmet for any recycling help or numbers. These indicate the type of plastic used for the shell or other parts of the helmet.
  • Contact your lIt can recycling agency or center and ask if they accept bike helmets or polyester, the main material used for the lining.
  • If they do, it may be any straps, buckles, pads, or other materials not made of polystyrene foam. You may need to use scissors or a knife to cut them off.
  • Take your helmet or polystyrene foam to the recycling center and follow their instructions for disposal.
  • If your local recycling center does not accept bike helmets or polystyrene foam, you may look for a manufacturer’s program that offers recycling services for their products.

Some examples are Giro’s Renew program4 and POClmet Recycling Program. These programs allow return your old helmet to them for free and receive a discount helmet’s condition Recycle Bicycle Helmets

There are several options for recycling bicycle helmets. One option is to take your old helmet to a local recycling center. Many recycling centers accept EPS foam and may have a special bin for bicycle helmets.

Another option is to contact the manufacturer of your helmet to see if they have a helmet recycling program. Some manufacturers offer recycling programs for their products, including bicycle helmets.

Recycling vs. Reusing Bicycle Helmets

Recycling vs. Reusing Bicycle Helmets

Sure thing! Here’s a table comparing recycling and reusing bicycle helmets:

What it involves: Breaking down the helmet into its components (usually plastic and foam) and processing those materials to be reused in other products.What it involves: Finding a new use for the helmet that doesn’t involve breaking it down into its component materials.
Pros: Helps divert waste from landfills, reduces the need for virgin materials, and can create jobs in the recycling industry.Pros: It helps extend the useful life of the helmet, reduces the need to purchase a new helmet, and can be a fun DIY project.
Cons: It can be difficult to find a recycling program that accepts bicycle helmets, and breaking down the helmet can be energy-intensive.Cons: It may not be possible if the helmet is damaged or has expired (helmets typically need to be replaced every few years). Also, the new use for the helmet may not be as safety-oriented as its original use.
Examples: The EPS foam in bicycle helmets can be recycled into products like insulation and plastic lumber.Examples: Helmets can be turned into planters, birdhouses, or lamps. Some bike shops accept used helmets for donation to local charities.

As you can see, recycling and reusing bicycle helmets have pros and cons.

Ultimately, the best approach will depend on the helmet’s condition, the availability of recycling programs, and the creativity of the person looking to give the helmet a new lease on life.

Check Also: 9 Best Road Bike Helmet Under $100 in 2023

Options for Disposing of Old Bicycle Helmets

So, if you can’t recycle your old bicycle helmet, what can you do with it? Here are some options:

Donate it to a Helmet Recycling Program.

While you can’t recycle your helmet through your local recycling program, some organizations specialize in recycling helmets. These organizations collect used helmets and either recycle the materials or donate the helmets to individuals in need.

Repurpose It

If your old helmet is still in good condition, consider repurposing it instead of throwing it away. You can decorate it or even turn it into a flowerpot!

Trash It

If your helmet is damaged, worn out, or no longer safe to use, it’s time to throw it away. While it’s not ideal for adding it to the landfill, it’s better to dispose of it properly than to risk using a compromised helmet.

Read More: Do Bike Helmets Expire?

The Pros and Cons of Recycling Bicycle Helmets

Sure thing! Here’s a table outlining the pros and cons of recycling bicycle helmets:

Reduce waste: Recycling bicycle helmets help divert them from ending up in landfills, reducing the environmental impact of their disposal.Limited availability of recycling programs: Unfortunately, not all areas have recycling programs that accept bicycle helmets, making recycling difficult in some places.
Conserves resources: Recycling bicycle helmets allow for the recovery of valuable materials, such as plastic and foam, that you can use to make new products without the need for virgin materials.Energy-intensive process: Recycling bicycle helmets can be energy-intensive, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions if the energy comes from fossil fuels.
Creates jobs: The recycling industry creates jobs, which can help boost the local economy.Lack of awareness: Many people are not aware that bicycle helmets can be recycled, so they may not make an effort to do so.
Cost-effective: Recycling bicycle helmets can reduce the need to purchase virgin materials for new products.May not be practical for damaged helmets: Helmets that are damaged or have exceeded Their recommended lifespan may not be suitable for recycling.

Recycling bicycle helmets has many benefits, but there are also some challenges.

If you want to recycle your old helmet, it’s important to research whether any local programs accept them and to check if your helmet is still in good condition.

With the right approach, recycling your old bicycle helmet can be a great way to reduce waste, conserve resources, and support the recycling industry.

Specific Guidelines to Follow when Recycling a Bicycle Helmet?

There are few specific guidelines to follow when recycling a bicycle helmet, but here are some general tips:

  • Make sure your helmet is clean and dry before recycling it.
  • Do not recycle a helmet that has been damaged or involved in a crash. It may compromise the recycling process’s safety or the recycled material’s quality.
  • Label your helmet as “recycle” or “EPS” to help the recycling center identify it.
  • If possible, choose a recycling center or program specializing in bicycle helmets or polystyrene foam. They may have better equipment and methods to handle them.

FAQs: Can you Recycle Bicycle Helmets?

Can I recycle the straps on my bicycle helmet?

No, the straps on bicycle helmets cannot be recycled either. They are typically made of nylon or polyester, which are not easily recyclable.

How long do bicycle helmets last?

The lifespan of a bicycle helmet depends on several factors, including how often it’s used, how it’s stored, and whether or not it’s been involved in an accident. It’s generally recommended that you replace your helmet every five years.

Can I recycle the box that my new helmet came in?

Yes, the cardboard box that your new helmet came in can typically be recycled through your standard curbside recycling program.

Can I donate a damaged bicycle helmet to a helmet recycling program?

No, it’s not recommended to donate a damaged bicycle helmet to a recycling program. Only helmets that are still in good condition should be donated.

Can I reuse a bicycle helmet after it’s been involved in an accident?

No, if your bicycle helmet has been involved in an accident, it’s no longer safe to use. The helmet’s structural integrity may be compromised, even if it looks okay on the outside. It’s best to replace your helmet after any impact.


In conclusion, it is possible to recycle bicycle helmets in some areas, and there are options available for disposing of helmets safely and responsibly in areas where recycling programs are not available.

 By recycling or repurposing your old helmet, you can help to reduce waste, conserve natural resources, and stimulate the economy.

Remember to always invest in a new helmet that fits properly and replace your helmet every five years or after any impact to ensure maximum protection while riding your bike.

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